Shalom Lappin writes on Normblog about the phenomenon of psychologising about a country or an entire ethnic group in terms of trauma, illustrated with examples from Jacqueline Rose, academic critic, Anthony Lerman, former Jewish think-tank leader, Caryl Churchill, Palestine Solidarity Campaign patron. He draws parallels with and distinctions from an earlier therapist to ‘the Jews’, Otto Weininger, an Austrian pseudo-scientist whose negative views of Jews compared to the Aryan qualities he admired resonated strongly with Austrian literary society.
From the piece:
“There are at least five features of the psychologizing discourse worth noting. First, it provides an ostensibly scientific basis for attributing negative properties to an ethnic group. Inter alia, most (but not all) Israelis, and many of their Diaspora Jewish supporters suffer from a blood lust. They are insensitive to the suffering of innocent Palestinians. They are exclusively concerned with the welfare of their own people. They engage in illicit lobbying and hysterical political campaigning to promote a narrow and destructive group agenda. They refuse to acknowledge the normal constraints of universal human rights and morality. These are, of course, versions of longstanding anti-Jewish bigotries that infect European and Middle Eastern history. They are, however, rendered opaque and acceptable through translation into the psychological symptoms of a disturbed group. The painstaking clinical studies required to support serious psychological diagnoses are singularly absent from the psychologizing discourse. It is, in fact, a vintage case of pseudo-science in the service of prejudice. It does, however, serve an important political and cultural role. It renders acceptable attitudes and assumptions that would be inadmissible if expressed in traditional terms.”